Ambition. In many ways, it’s one of the building blocks of horror. Al Pacino used it to temp poor Keanu and rob him of his soul, it has led many a Lovecraftian hero to their doom, and most horrifically of all, gave Kenneth Branagh the belief he could improve on Mary Shelley. First time novelist Duncan P. Bradshaw has ambition in spades, describing his debut novella Class Three as a zombie romantic comedy. A challenging trifecta I’m sure you’ll agree. Balancing those genres would be no easy task for a King or Neville, so our new kid on the block has his work cut out for him.
Our hero is Jim, an ordinary guy, currently dating Sophie, who in true Rom Com tradition, is a bit of out his league. Sticking with tradition, Jim is oblivious to the fact he’s not winning boyfriend of the year anytime soon. At least until Sophie utters that line from relationship hell “…It’s not me, it’s you”. If that wasn’t bad enough, Jim then ends up being designated driver to his older brother, Phil. The only thing that would make this evening any worse, is if the dead returned to life with an appetite for human flesh. Enter the ghouls, stage left.
I know what you are thinking, dear reader: zombies plus slackers with relationship troubles, I’ve seen this film before.
Now it is true that the spirit of Shaun of the Dead hangs over Class Three in much the same way as Uncle George has influenced every zombie film in the last 40 plus years. But Bradshaw wisely keeps the events of his novels, and more importantly the humour, distinctly different from the famous movie. And this a funny book, the reactions of the two brothers as a real zombie menace attacks their town is undeniably comical. Furthermore, Sophie is given a fair share of the spotlight, and scenes involving her, together with her dear old mum handling the undead are among the novel’s highlights.
Once the novel moves into the second act, and the terror of a nation resisting the undead takes over, Bradshaw is able to weight the horror set pieces with a dry humour and plenty of laugh out loud moments. One highlight in particular is a weary General’s reaction to the enemy, one his army is ill equipped to deal with.
While Bradshaw nails the comedy and horror part of his trifecta, he’s less successful in the romance aspects. There’s little for the reader to hold on to between Sophie and Jim, other than the desire to see each other again, which features between all lead characters in nearly every Post-Apocalyptic horror novel you’ve read. Plus I never really buy ‘the girl goes back to the slacker boyfriend’ trope that we’ve seen in dozens of films over the years (thanks Knocked Up) and Bradshaw wasn’t successful in selling it here. But then again I never believed Briget Fonda would ever fancy Bruce Campbell, and I love Army of Darkness no end, so what do I know?
Class Three is a funny zombie novel, one that manages to balance the comedy with the horror action. While the romance side comes in a distant third (the Arsenal position, if you will) fans of the genre will find plenty to get their teeth into.
For more info on Class Three & Duncan P Bradshaw please check the links below!
Amazon Paperback – CLICK HERE
Amazon Kindle – CLICK HERE
Duncan’s Website – CLICK HERE
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